The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

08 March 2019

Of straight lines and scalping

I nearly scalped my husband Wednesday night, and it's all because I can't sew.

He's a story teller, this man of mine. From our earliest days of dating he would tell me I could alter his long-sleeve shirts or could easily sew up my own this or that. Listening to him talk, I'm positive he was imagining me at a spinning wheel, perhaps even carding my own wool. Whether I was also raising the sheep that wool came from is not clear, but for sure the scene was lit by lanterns.

No amount of protestation ever swayed his certainty I would be the sort of wife who knew how to cut and taper a sleeve. I could demonstrate my extreme ineptitude for straight lines on paper to no effect. He showed no concern after my story about the time I tried to make a blouse but sewed pins right into the hem and made one side of the collar a full two inches taller than the other. His belief in me would be almost touching... if it wasn't also frustrating.

Alongside the stories about me tailoring his clothes were the ones about me cutting his hair. Dear Reader, he has beautiful curly silvery white hair (he silvered young, but has kept his hair, huzzah!) which he would get barbered twice a year. And by barbered I mean buzzed down to a military length. (I had feared he would do so for our wedding, but the dear old gent who has been barbering him since he was a lad knew there was a bride who would cry that day, so he tamed rather than removed those curls. I bless him daily.)

"It's easy," my beloved would assure me. "If a ninety-year old man can do it, you can do it."

"I can't do straight lines!" I'd protest. "It will look horrible." Which is no way to convince him because his response is always, always, always: I don't care.

"I'll buy clippers," he'd say. "You just run it all over my head. How hard can it be?"

That scene from that movie with Demi Moore would go through my head. You know the one I mean? She's training to be a Navy Seal and her miles of long hair are getting in her way so she grabs some clippers and has at it. Piles of hair drop to the floor as she mows uneven paths over her scalp until she's as bald as the men in her class.  There's equality for you: no woman should have to carry a life boat full of water across the beach with hairpins stuck in her head!

Anyway. It started to appeal to me, this idea of the clippers. I started to think that maybe that blouse was a blip and maybe I could handle cutting and sewing afterall. So Wednesday night, between coming home from work and leaving home for Mass we sat him down on a chair in the dining room with an old sheet meant to contain the carnage under it all. I'd read the instructions and watched the tutorials so helpfully posted online so I was confident when I picked up the shears.

I do believe I was lied to. It wasn't easy or straightforward.  Hair flew everywhere. The dining room quickly looked like barnyard animals were fighting, and my poor husband had got caught in the middle of it. Though I by no means used the smallest of guards, he was being shorn down to the scalp. It was too late to switch to a different length though, because a great wide swath of hair had been cut away. There was nothing for it but to see it through to the bitter, bald end. I was also up against the clock as I tried to figure out what to do with his ears as we had to be at church by seven. I didn't have time to even out the sideburns, so they're just gone.

Even now, days later, he has remnants of longer feathers that catch in a breeze, but when I point them out to him, he tells me he doesn't care. He loves it, and he tells everyone his wife cut his hair, which is really touching... and a little humbling, too.